Regina-based artist Melanie Monique Rose uses Saskatchewan’s native plants to dye the fibers she uses in her artwork, a deeply personal nod to her experience as an Indigenous artist connected to the land on which she lives.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Asia Society Museum is lending the New Orleans Museum of Art nearly 70 pieces of Asian art collected by John D. Rockefeller 3rd and his wife, Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller.
The bronze, ceramic and metalwork spans more than two millennia, and will be on display in New Orleans from March 13 through June 7, the New Orleans museum said on its website.
The exhibition, titled “Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon,” will look at themes of Buddhist sculpture, Hindu sculpture, and ceramics and metalwork. It also will examine the Rockefellers’ collecting and exhibition practices.
Items to be shown include a late second- or third-century head of Buddha, sculpted in Pakistan; a copper alloy statue of Shiva as lord of the dance, made in India about 970; and a Chinese porcelain bowl painted with brown birds, flowering plants and rocks, made sometime from 1723 to 1735.
Events during the exhibition will range from talks by artists and curators to meditation sessions and demonstrations of the Japanese tea ceremony.
Concordia professor curates historical exhibition of Black Canadian works.
Joana Joachim was still a student when the idea first came to her for a project highlighting Black Canadian art history. While doing her master’s in museum studies at Université de Montréal, she took part in a group residency at Artexte, an arts organization in downtown Montreal. The students developed a bibliography for Black and Asian Canadian art, in response to how those groups have faced exclusion from historically Eurocentric art institutions.
“I had the distinct feeling that we had only just scratched the surface, and I tucked that in the back of my mind as a thing to revisit someday.” She is now doing just that with Blackity, an exhibition that traces the major moments – and, importantly, gaps – in the story of Black artists in Canada. It launched at Artexte in September and will run until the end of June.
Dr. Joachim, who was recently appointed assistant professor of Black studies at Concordia University in art education, art history, and social justice, said the willingness of Artexte to address systemic issues in the art world was important to the genesis of Blackity. “That set the tone for me as a curator and art historian,” she said.
The exhibit makes thoughtful use of what’s known as ephemera: items created for a specific purpose that weren’t necessarily meant to last, such as a pamphlet or admission ticket. Ephemera is crucial, Dr. Joachim explained, because even with a lack of institutional recognition, it serves as evidence of what took place. Viewers will find things like a poster for a show of Tim Whiten, slides of sculpture art by Stan Douglas, and literary journals with work from Dionne Brand and Sylvia Hamilton.
Items date back to the 1970s, when the archive was more sparse, and run up until the past decade, which had plenty to draw from. To physically show these gaps, Dr. Joachim had vertical bands painted on the walls of the exhibition space, their thickness representing how much was available – or widely recognized – at the time. She chose large letters for some text, in a faint grey shade; symbolizing how Black Canadian artists have always been present and influential, but haven’t always been treated as such.
Dr. Joachim worked closely with Mojeanne Behzadi, who currently works in her previous role at Artexte. Ms. Behzadi brought in artists to paint the grey bands, and commissioned web developer Alex Nawotka of Mutual Design for the online exhibition. What she finds most impactful about Blackity is how it reminds us of the importance in documenting diverse experiences. “This great show you saw that nobody wrote on, it can end up disappearing very easily. I love that [Blackity] asks us to do something in response to that.” She described the exhibition as “a visualized bibliography” of Dr. Joachim’s work, something researchers can actively use and reference.
There are a few pieces that stood out to Dr. Joachim, some for their quirkiness, like the small plastic bull someone catalogued in a plastic bag – proof that you never know what’s going to be important later. But there’s one, a 1993 catalogue with mention of the artist Khadejha McCall, that hit close to the mission behind Blackity. McCall had been exhibiting work since 1967, but Dr. Joachim found just one sentence of critical writing about her in the archive. It’s a stark example of Ms. Behzadi’s sentiment; if meaningful work is not properly engaged with, it can go too long without recognition.
In the exhibition description, Dr. Joachim wrote that she strives to represent the history of Black Canadian art as “a constellation rather than a linear canon.” By letting go of the timeline format, “we end up with these seemingly disparate pockets of art-making, which are connected.” she said. “We end up with something that allows us to understand people and history and the spaces they occupy in a much more textured, nuanced way.”
“I take these plants, like goldenrod, and create colour with them to dye my wool that I use,” said Rose. “All the colours I have there have been taken from Treaty Four territory, for my needle felting.”
Rose is both artist and curator of the exhibition titled ᑌᐸᑯᐦ or Tepakohp, which means “seven” in Cree, a multi-media exhibition of works from seven Saskatchewan artists that uses art to share their experiences as Indigenous women.
The unique collection is set to debut at the Cathedral Village Arts Festival next week, before it begins an extended tour across the province with the Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils.
ᑌᐸᑯᐦ includes artwork from Audie Murray, Larissa Kitchemonia, Stacey Fayant and Brandy Jones, among others, who each contributed several pieces, each of which represents their lived experiences in a way that examines connections with the land.
Rose envisioned the exhibition because she wanted to place the experiences of Indigenous women on centre stage, as traditionally theirs are voices that have been stifled.
“It’s really all about uplifting and amplifying,” said Rose. “I wanted the artists to think about something that’s important to them, that they want to share through their art.”
What resulted is a series of very personal pieces, she said, that touch on topics ranging from experiencing Indigenous motherhood to discovering identity, grappling with grief and navigating injustices.
A striking self-portrait by artist Marcy Friesen tells the story of her reaching comfortableness with her Welsh and Cree heritage; a piece from Donna Langhorne examines her journey of reconnecting with her Anishinaabe roots after being adopted by a white family as a child.
“A lot of the works are really speaking to connection and reconnection,” said Rose. “It’s quite contemporary, but definitely you can see how it’s rooted in tradition.”
For Rose, the overarching goal is to educate the audience on the experience of being Indigenous in the current climate.
“We know we have a major problem here in Canada, with missing and murdered Indigenous women and negative stereotypes that just aren’t true,” said Rose. “I really wanted to use my gifts as an artist as a form of activism.”
Rose is enthusiastic to be partnered with both OSAC and the festival to show ᑌᐸᑯᐦ, to reach audiences across the province. OSAC’s tour will take the physical exhibition to Prince Albert, Estevan, Indian Head and more over the next two years.
But the show’s Regina debut will be at the upcoming arts festival in Cathedral, which begins on Monday. ᑌᐸᑯᐦ will be on continual display throughout the week, on the digital billboard located at Westminster United Church.
It will be the first time the festival has hosted an art installation in this way, said chair Marilyn Turnley, and the nature will allow for hopefully more reach than a typical display inside a venue.
“It offers an opportunity for people on bikes, walking, driving by to see it up close and personal,” said Turnley.
Turnley said the festival is excited to be the first look at the collection.
“Diversity and inclusiveness has always been at the forefront of the festival,” said Turnley. “This is how we build community — we bring art together in this way.”
The artists featured in ᑌᐸᑯᐦ will also be attending personally on the final day, Saturday, to interact with festival-goers and offer original art pieces for purchase — both their own, and from other Indigenous artists.
“It’s about opening that door for other artists,” said Rose. “Creating that space for the next generation, which I think is the whole spirit of the exhibition.”
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Espanola resident Penny Bois says it is an honour and a privilege to have been chosen as one of two distinguished artists for the La Cloche 43rd Art Show. She is also happy to get back to showing her artwork in person as she doesn’t think virtual art shows well. Bois is a member of the Manitoulin Art Club and the Sudbury Art Club.
The La Cloche Art Show is a juried exhibition and sale, with prizes awarded in a number of categories for those artists exhibiting their artistic creations. The categories are: acrylic, coloured pencil and drawing, mixed media, oil, pastel, photography, sculpture and watercolour. It takes place from July 2 to 9 between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Whitefish Falls Community Centre and is free to the public.
Due to COVID-19 this very popular annual event has not been able to take place for the last two summers. The last time the art show was held in 2019 there were 100 artists registered for the event, coming from all across Canada and even internationally. This year the turnout for both artists and art aficionados are expected to be high.
Bois said she was surprised to have been chosen as a distinguished artists as she has only been focusing on developing her talents over the last six years. She started drawing when she was 12 years old and still has some of the sketches she created when she was 16, but then she put it aside.
“By the time I was 19 I didn’t do any more painting.”
She says she looks back at the old drawings and regrets not continuing.
Life took her in a different direction. Bois laid her pencils and brushes down to begin a career as a cardiac intensive care nurse. It was at least 33 years before her creative urges were once again ignited and now, she is exploring, at her own pace, a new artistic career.
She works in six mediums: charcoal, pastel, oil, graphite, acrylic, and ball point pen. Just recently she discovered gelly roll pens, which come in many different colours and thicknesses. While she has been told it is better to stick with one or two mediums Bois says, “I like to explore many avenues of creativity so I’m not limiting myself to one medium.”
Her main interest is portraits. She recalls doing a sketch of her family which she was quite proud of only to be told by her eldest daughter, “Whose family is this?” Her husband, children and grandchildren are part of the artwork adorning the walls of her spacious studio.
She has also focused on a lot of commissioned pieces over the last two years and started tutorial art classes in the last year. She prefers to facetime one-on-one with her students which she says range from 14 to people in their 80’s. Since she has health issues she prefers to limit the number of people coming into her studio. She doesn’t charge for her tutorials, since she says as a budding artist she had help from some amazing people and it is her way of passing it on.
Bois has a Facebook page called P. Bois studio, which includes little two-minute lessons in artistic techniques along with the various materials she uses in creating different drawings and paintings. There are a number of things she has learned from trial and error that she passes along.
Two of the key techniques she mentions are layering and knowing the limitations of the various mediums she is using. She says it is impossible to erase ball point pen.
“Once you commit gelly roll pen to paper you are done.”
Also, with white ballpoint pen on black paper a fixative is not needed. For other mediums such as charcoal and graphite a fixative must be sprayed on between layers to be able to continue. The fixative dries within 15 minutes. In creating one of her pieces she says she uses a minimum of seven to eight layers and sometimes as many as 10. The properties of the different grades of paper used also comes into how the finished piece will present itself.
Some of her favourite corrective tools are white and black mono erasers and a simple make-up brush or Q-tip. For those people who dabble with acrylics, and are slow painters, she recommends an acrylic retardant to keep it from drying too fast. “I’ve learned to pace myself.”
Her tutorials mention as well the types of paints she uses and how she mixes them to get a particular shade.
As part of being the distinguished artist Bois will be conducting a tutorial during the art show as well as donating one of her charcoal sketches for the raffle. The painting to be raffled, called ‘Emotion’, is an 18″ x 17″ white and black charcoal on a double matted wood frame with an anti-glare glass front. It’s valued at $350. She plans on bringing a minimum of 10 to 12 of her creations to exhibit at the show. They will also be available for purchase.
After the La Cloche Art Show the exhibition that Bois will be a part of is the Manitoulin Art Tour, from July 15 to 17. There will be 40 locations all across Manitoulin Island for people to meet the artists and view their creations. Her spot for the three days will be in the basement of the Anchor Inn.
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